The percentage of the population that utilizes chiropractic care at any given time generally falls into a range from 6% to 12% in the U.S. and Canada, with a global high of 20% in Alberta in 2006. In 2008, chiropractors were reported to be the most common CAM providers for children and adolescents, consuming up to 14% of all visits to chiropractors. In 2008, there were around 60,000 chiropractors practicing in North America. In 2002–03, the majority of those who sought chiropractic did so for relief from back and neck pain and other neuromusculoskeletal complaints; most do so specifically for low back pain. The majority of U.S. chiropractors participate in some form of managed care. Although the majority of U.S. chiropractors view themselves as specialists in neuroleptic malignant syndrome conditions, many also consider chiropractic as a type of primary care. In the majority of cases, the care that chiropractors and physicians provide divides the market, however for some, their care is complementary.
Five to 10-minute ice massages applied to a painful area within the first 48 hours of the start of pain can help relieve pain as can heat, which relaxes the muscles. Heat should be applied for pain of duration greater than 48 hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, frequently are enough to control episodes of neck pain, and muscle relaxants may help those with limited motion secondary to muscle tightness.
Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments, the theory being that proper alignment of the body's musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication. Manipulation is used to restore mobility to joints restricted by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event, such as falling, or repetitive stress, such as sitting without proper back support.